Part 1 Click here to view
BJP Member of Parliament Tarun Vijay has been advocating pan-India recognition for the Tamil language. Greatly influenced by Thirukkural, considered a “Universal Veda” on Humanity, he spoke about the greatness of Sage Thiruvalluvar and his monumental work Thirukkural in Parliament and urged that the birth anniversary of the sage be celebrated nationwide. The demand was immediately welcomed by members cutting across political lines and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said the government would officially announce the celebration of the divine poet’s birth anniversary.
At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, it was decided to celebrate Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary across the country by holding seminars and symposiums highlighting the great Tamil savant’s contribution. Tarun Vijay also evinced interest in the great poet and freedom fighter Subramania Bharatiyar by approaching the union government to make the poet’s house in Varanasi a national heritage monument. Smriti Irani said the government would also celebrate the birth anniversary of Bharatiyar.
While expressing our thanks and appreciations to Tarun Vijay and Smriti Irani from the bottom of our hearts, we would like to draw the attention of the Union Government to the existence of an anomaly - a historical blunder - behind the celebration of Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary, which needs to be corrected immediately. With this in mind, we submit this Research Paper urging the Central Government to kindly take it up with the State Government and do the needful at the earliest, so that the Indian people in general and Tamils in particular all over the world can celebrate the divine poet’s birth anniversary on the correct and most appropriate day.
Monumental Blunder by Karunanidhi Government
The Tamil Nadu government has been celebrating Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary for more than three decades. But in 1971, the Karunanidhi-led DMK government declared January 15 (second day of Tamil month ‘Thai’) as the birth day of the divine poet on the basis of “Resolutions” passed by a Conference of Tamil Scholars led by Maraimalai Adigal alias Swami Vedachalam in 1921.
As the Dravidian Movement was inimical to the usage of traditional Tamil Years, which have a 60-year cycle, Karunanidhi pushed in a system of “Thiruvalluvar Year” in the guise of bringing “continuity”. Quoting Maraimalai Adigal’s conclusive research that Thiruvalluvar was born in 31 BC, Karunanidhi declared that Thiruvalluvar’s birth year would be officially considered as Tamil Year.
However, for his own reasons, Karunanidhi conveniently forgot to take the day (Anusham star of Vaikaasi month) specifically mentioned by Maraimalai Adigal as the birth day of Sage Thiruvalluvar. Without citing any evidence, he declared Thai-1 (first day of Tamil month ‘Thai’) as birth day of Thiruvalluvar, and later, again for his own reasons, changed it to Thai-2 (second day of Thai). Due to the prevailing political climate then and also for the sake of having continuity in accounting the years, the people of Tamil Nadu including scholars, remained silent over the declaration by the DMK government.
In 2008, the then Karunanidhi government, again for its own reasons, declared the first day of Thai (Thai-1) as “Tamil New Year Day”. Here again, he mentioned the “resolutions” passed in the same “1921 Conference” led by Maraimalai Adigal alias Swami Vedachalam. It must be noted that Karunanidhi did not mention the day and month when the said conference was held in 1921.
When we delved deep into the archives, we found no such conference was held in 1921! Hence, we created awareness among the public through various media houses and also filed a writ petition against the Karunanidhi government’s declaration of Thai-1 as Tamil New Year. While the proceedings were going on in the Madras High Court, the AIADMK government led by Jayalalitha changed the Tamil New Year back to the traditional Chithirai-1 (first day of Tamil month Chithirai) to the great relief of the Tamil community.
Conference held by Thiruvalluvar Day Forum
As we researched various evidences in the archives, we found many details with regards to a Conference of Hundreds of Great Tamil Scholars held on 18-19 May, 1935 at Pachayapas College under the aegis of the Thiruvalluvar Day Forum (Thiruvalluvar Thirunal Kazhakam), in Chennai.
This conference, led by Maraimalai Adigal, was attended by many eminent scholars such as K Namachivaya Mudaliyar, V Kalyanasuntharanar, TP Meenakshi Sundaram, Koteeswara Mudaliyar, S Sachidanandam Pillai, B Dawood Shah, ET Rajeswari Ammal, P Kannappa Mudaliyar, T Sengalvarayan, Siva Arunagiri Mudaliyar, M Balasubramania Mudaliyar, Siva Muthukumarasami Mudaliyar, T Sengalvaraya Pillai, Kaazhi Siva Kannusami Pillai, RS Sambasiva Sharma, V Subbaiya Pillai, TP Gopalaratnam, MV Venugopal Pillai, Ninrai Thangavelu Mudaliyar, Minister in Madras Presidency S Muthaiya Mudaliyar, Deivanayakam Pillai, S Vaiyapuri Pillai and A Balakrishna Pillai, et al. More than a thousand persons attended the conference.
In his presidential address, Maraimalai Adigal mentioned that he had arrived at the conclusion that the birth day of Thiruvalluvar was the day on which Anusham star falls in the Tamil month of Vaikaasi. This conclusion was based on the Tamil, indeed Bharatiya tradition, of celebrating anniversaries based on Nakshatra and Thithi (star and day). It could not be a coincidence that May 18, 1935, the day the Conference was inaugurated, was also Vaikaasi Anusham!
During the conference proceedings, Maraimalai Adigal never forced the delegates to accept his conclusion. The Conference never mentioned Thiruvalluvar’s birth year as a benchmark for ‘continuity’. The conference didn’t pass any resolution at all – as claimed by Karunanidhi. In fact, Karunanidhi for his own reasons had misled the people by saying that the Conference was held in 1921, when it was actually held in 1935. The Conference had a nine-point agenda and neither “Tamil New Year” nor “Continuity of Years” figured among them. The main purpose was to celebrate Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar every year and feeding the poor people through annadanam on that day.
Authentic evidences for Vaikaasi-Anusham
We feel that both the Central and State Governments must utilize this God given opportunity to correct the historical wrong committed by the Karunanidhi regime. The doubts and uncertainties over the birth anniversary of Sage Thiruvalluvar must be cleared and settled once and for all. We have collated the following authentic evidences, apart from the above mentioned conference.
- Marai. Thirunavukkarasu, son of Maraimalai Adigal, who wrote his father’s biography, mentions that he had accompanied his father on a trip to Sri Lanka in 1921 and that his father had addressed a seminar on the first day of Thai in Jaffna. Thus, Karunanidhi’s claim falls to pieces. Moreover, Karunanidhi, himself being a Tamil scholar, could not have missed this biography, leave alone the other evidences of the said Conference.
Following the 1935 Conference, Thiruvalluvar Day Forum celebrated the divine poet’s birth anniversary on the day of Vaikaasi-Anusham under the presidentship of Sri UV Swaminatha Iyer in 1936.
- Francis Whyte Ellis, a civil servant in Madras Presidency during the British period, was a scholar of Tamil and Sanskrit. He documented that Thiruvalluvar was a divine poet and that his birth anniversary was celebrated in the Thiruvalluvar Temple in Mylapore.
Scholar Thiruthanikai Saravana Perumal Iyer had published Thirukkural in 1837, wherein he noted a proclamation made by the British government announcing Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.
- The Thiruvalluvar Temple in Mylapore has been celebrating Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary every year, right from the beginning to till date, on Vaikaasi-Anusham. Scholar and epigraphist S Ramachandran opines that the Temple must have been built during the 13th century. He says he has seen the original sculpture of Thiruvalluvar, which was unearthed from inside the temple complex in 1974, when the then Karunanidhi government arranged for the renovation of the temple. He added that the sculpture could not be consecrated as it was slightly damaged. Even today, the old Iluppai tree is there inside the temple, as a remembrance of his place of birth. The hut which was beside the tree was replaced by the temple in which is ensconced a replica of the sage. Maraimalai Adigal made a mention of this fact.
- Periyar EV Ramasami Naicker, who is adored by Dravidian politicians including Karunanidhi as Thanthai (father), has also documented Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.
CN Annadurai, former Chief Minister and founder of DMK, had once led the celebration of Thiruvalluvar Day on Vaikaasi-Anusham at Seven Wells area in Chennai.
- Pandit KP Ratnam, a great Tamil scholar from Colombo, founded the Tamil Marai Kazhakam (Tamil Vedic Forum) and through it spread the message worldwide that Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary must be celebrated on the auspicious day of Vaikaasi-Anusham. Tamil scholars across the world accepted his message and followed it in letter and spirit.
- On Vaikaasi Anusham on 2 June 1966, during the Congress regime, the then President Dr S Radhakrishnan unveiled the statue of Thiruvalluvar in Mylapore in the presence of the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Bhaktavatsalam and the then Mayor of Chennai Mr Minor Moses. Bhaktavatsalam also declared Vaikaasi-Anusham as a holiday to mark the birth anniversary of the sage.
- We have also, via an RTI application, obtained information from the HR&CE Department of Tamil Nadu government confirming that the Thiruvalluvar Temple in Myalpore, which is under its administration, has been celebrating Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.
Therefore, the mistake committed by the then Tamil Nadu government must be undone. The present Central and State Governments should put this opportunity to good use.
Professor Sami Thiagarajan is President of the Dravidian Intellectual Forum, Chennai; BR Gauthaman is Director of the Vedic Science Research Center, Chennai
Translation: R Sudarshan & BR Haran
Part 2 Click here to view
The formation of the Thiruvalluvar Thirunal Kazhakam (Thiruvalluvar Day Forum) paved the way for spreading the message of Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary. The forum was formed by various scholars about 80 years ago, when Shri V Subbaiah Pillai, who was in charge of Tirunelveli Thennindhiya Saiva Siddhanta Kazhagam, shared his idea with his friend Shri Kaazhi Sivakannusaami Pillai. Together, on 17 January 1935, they decided to form an association - Thiruvalluvar Thirunal Kazhakam - to commemorate the memory of sage Thiruvalluvar on a specific day.
Accordingly, a team of directors comprising Vidwan Paripakkam Unnappa Mudaliyar, Thamizh Pulavar Siva Muthukumaraswamy Mudaliyaar, Shri Kaazhi Siva Kannusaami Pillai, B.A., Shri M Balasubramaniam, M.A; Shri T Chengalvaraya Pillai, B.A., L.T.; Shri V Subbaiah Pillai, Shri CM Govindaraja Mudaliyar, was formed.
The directors and executive members selected by them approached Perumpulavar Prof K Namachivaya Mudaliyar to take up the chairmanship of the Thiruvalluvar Thirunal Kazhagam. He accepted and Thiruvalluvar Day Forum was formed.
The Forum decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on 18th (Vaikaasi Anusham) and 19th of May 1935 and to extend the celebration across the nation and world. On the first day (18 May) they placed a portrait of Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural written on palm leaves on a pedestal and went in a procession to Thiruvalluvar Temple, where they performed pooja, abishekam and arati for the sage poet. The celebration was conducted at Pachayapas College, as previously noted.
Celebration at several places
On the same day (18 May 1935), the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar was celebrated at many places across the state.
- Mylapore - Thiruvaluvar Temple under the leadership of Temple Trustee Sivagnanam Pillai
- Royapuram – Under the leadership of Diwan Bahadur A Ramaswamy Mudaliar
- Seven Wells Street, Broadway – Seven Wells Youth Forum under the leadership of CN Annadurai
- Coimbatore – Coimbatore Tamil Sangam under the leadership of Shri Ramachandra Chettiar
Celebrations were also held at Bangalore, Bellary, Puducherry, Tanjore, Tiruchy, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli and many other places.
In 1936 also, Thiruvalluvar Day was celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham.
- Chennai – Under the presidentship of Shri UV Swaminatah Iyer
- Tenkasi – Tenkasi Thiruvalluvar Kazhakam under the leadership of Thiru V Kalyana Sundaranar
- Coimbatore – Under the leadership of Thudisaikizhar A Chidambaranar
In 1937, Thiruvalluvar Day was celebrated under the leadership of Sivakavimani CK Subramania Mudaliyar at Pasaneri on behalf of Thiruvalluvar Day Forum.
Centuries of Tradition
Sri Lankan Tamil scholar KP Ratnam established the institute, Tamil Vedic Forum, in 1952 and had Tamils of the world celebrate the anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham in 1953 and 1954. There is no way to express our gratitude to this great man than by worshiping him in our hearts. Here are some significant facts about the Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore.
- KP Ratnam didn’t propagate this message on his own, but simply spread his ancestors’ opinion and followed their tradition. Thiruvalluvar Temple at Mylapore, Chennai, is the “Symbol” of that tradition for centuries.
- The birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar is celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham and the day of his departure to his heavenly abode is observed on Maasi Uthiram, right from the beginning in this Temple.
A slump and a revival
The fact that the birth anniversary was celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham from 1935 to 1940 was not denied by anyone. Even leaders of Dravidar Kazhakam and Justice Party like EVR Periyar, CN Annadurai, PT Rajan, A Gajapathi Naicker have celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham only.
Unfortunately, Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary, which was celebrated in such a grand manner, lost its sheen and was relegated to obscurity, but was later renewed with fresh vigour after 17 years, in 1952, by Sri Lankan Tamil scholar Pandit KP Ratnam.
I. Notes from scholars who have accepted the assertion of KP Ratnam and lent their support to celebrate Vaikaasi-Anushan as Thiruvalluvar Day
- “As per your reference, there is no reservation against celebrating on Vaikaasi Anusham” - His Holiness Kunrakudi Adigalar (13.2.53).
- “The great day of the poet who gave Kural lends greatness to Tamil”- Naavalar S Somasundara Bharatiyar
- “When you and others do not have any difference of opinion in observing Masi Uthiram (the day he attained Siddhi) as Guru Poojai Day, there can be no objections whatsoever in celebrating Vaikaasi Anusham as the day of his birth” - Pandithamani C Ganapathipillai (13.6.1953)
- “Your efforts are most apt and commendable”- Shri S Uthirapathi, M.A., Professor of Central University of Bangalore (19.7.54)
- “Since 1935, Vaikaasi Anusham has fortunately become a day of celebration. Hence, we may establish so”- Prof Shri A Arulappan, B.A., Palamkottai St. Saveriyar College (19.8.54).
- “Thiruvalluvar Thirunal mostly is celebrated during Vaikaasi Anusham in Tamilnadu” - Prof. Ra. Pi. Sethupillai (24.2.54)
- “In celebrating the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham, myself and those belonging to Thamizharasu Iyakkam would cooperate wholly” - Ma. Po. Sivagnana Gramani (15.3.54)
- “Your service deserves great praise” - Vidwan Pandit L.P.Karu. Ramnathan Chettiar (20.3.54)
- “The birth anniversary celebration of Thiruvalluvar is hugely praiseworthy and may I present my cooperation and wishes to your great effort”. - Dr. Ma. Raasamaanickanaar (12.3.54)
- “Due to your great efforts it has been firmly established that the birth anniversary falls on Vaikaasi Anusham”. - Sidhanta Siromani Sri. CS. Kandaswami Mudaliyar (16.3.54)
- “May you indulge in more efforts and may the Feet of the Lord grant you all the success” - . Kaviyogi Sudhanandha Bharatiyar (15.3.54).
- “That people like us are duty bound to follow in the footsteps of those like you” - Pulavareru A Varada Nanjaiyyan (12.3.54)
- “That the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar is being celebrated at Mylapore Temple on Vaikaasi Anusham itself is ample evidence for your statement - Balakavi Vayinaagaram Ve. Ramanathan Chettiyar (Vijaya Maasi.30).
- “I hail your efforts. It is a result of sustained motivation” - Dr. Mu. Varadaraasan (17.3.54)
- “According to your appeal we would celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar during the month of May on 18th (Vaikaasi, 3) in a grand manner” - Pulavar C. Ilakkuvanaar (23.3.54)
- “In our land, this day is celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham naturally” - Professor Aa. Sa. Gnanasambandan (6.3.54)
- “The efforts you have undertaken are very great. I pray Almighty that it succeeds well” - Swami Chidbavanandha (13.3.54)
- “That we consider Kural as Vedas and celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar aptly on Vaikaasi Anusham is as per tradition and right”. - Shri. Ki.Vaa. Jagannaathan (26.5.54)
- “You are celebrating the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. I convey my happiness to you and other volunteers too”. - Rasikamani TK Chidambaranatha Mudaliyar (28.1.53)
- “My sincere appreciation to your strenuous efforts” - Kalaivaanar NS Krishnan
II. Magazines and Journals have also accepted the message of Scholar K.P.Ratnam and made the following observations.
- “It is essential that anniversaries of great men are celebrated, but on which day is of little significance” - It would be difficult to give a satisfactory answer to this statement. However, one cannot deny the fact that there are a few advantages in celebrating it uniformly throughout the land. In such a situation, when there is a need to mention a particular day, it would be better to have Vaikaasi Anusham itself as the day of significance, as it has been accepted and acknowledged by those like Maraimalai Adigal.” - Kalki, April 12-1958
- “We appeal to all Tamil folks, institutions, libraries, schools and other public institutions to celebrate the birth anniversary of Valluvar on Vaikaasi Panai (Anusha) every year”. - Senthamizh Selvi - Vaikaasi, 1953
- “There is no doubt that the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar, if celebrated on a particular day would fetch immense benefits. This being the case, there is nothing wrong in observing Vaikaasi Anusham which has been accepted by the majority as his birth anniversary and Maasi Uthiram as the day he left his earthly abode.” - Atma Jothi - Vaikaasi, 1953
- “Forthcoming 18.5.54 (the day on which Anusha star falls), is the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar who gave Tamil Veda. It is firm that all Tamil lovers would support the plea of this Kazhagam that the day be declared a public holiday by the government” - Kumudham - 20.4.54
- “Great Scholars like Maraimalai Adigal and others have declared Vaikaasi Anusham and hence we too accept that Vaikaasi Anusham is apt” - Thiruvalluvar - May, 1953
- “Thiruvaluvar’s birth anniversary falls on the 5th Day of coming Vaikaasi the (18.5.54). Tamils world over should celebrate this day in their homes, institutions, associations and educational institutions. May the Tamils be proud of their race and rise in unison!” - Thamizhosai - April 1954 (Singapore)
- “What difference does it make if we celebrate the anniversary of a great man and a pandit of international stature in whatever way one deems? (The journal Kalki lends a fitting reply to this question) - . Kural Malar 12.3.54
- “That the best literature of the world, Thirukural is in Tamil language and Thiruvalluvar who penned it is a Tamil, is a unique honour and privilege to the Tamil community. The best way for the Tamil society to appropriate itself befitting this honour and privilege is to celebrate the birth anniversary of Valluvar across the nook and corner of the world. This year, during the month of Vaikaasi, 5, (18.5.54), the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar should be celebrated by all at all places” - Dharma Chakram - Chithirai 1953 - Chithirai 1954.
- “Guru Pooja is observed during the Anusha star of Vaikaasi month at the Thiruvalluvar Temple situated at Mylapore. In consonance with this tradition, we may celebrate the birth anniversary of Valluvar. Of course, Thiruvalluvar may be celebrated on all days. However if all were to celebrate the birth anniversary unitedly on the same day, it would be beneficial. This year the birth anniversary of Valluvar falls on 18th of May. Whatever be our actions, they ought to be within the confines of tradition and we can follow the tradition and celebrate accordingly”. - Kalaimagal - Vaikaasi 1952
- 28.5.53 is Thiruvalluvar Day. We emphasize that the Tamils prosper in their lives by celebrating this day in all institutions. - Samooga Thondan - 13.4.58
Besides the above, magazines like Sudandiran, Thamizhnaadu, Dinamani Kadhir and others have written editorials and special columns. Magazines like Kaveri, Kumaraguruparan, Sangapalagai, Sidhantham, Senkol, Chettinadu, Thirupugazhamirdham, Dravida naadu, Dravidan, Dinamani, Thondan, Senkol, Vindhiya, Amudhasurabhi, Manavar jothi, Udhayam, Thamizh muzhakkam, Eazhakesari, Dinakaran, Thamizh murasu, Thamizh nesan and others have also published the releases of the institution founded by KP Ratnam thereby giving him encouragement and support.
Among the above, it must be noted that Dravida naadu was a journal edited by CN Annadurai, who later became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
III. Many Sabas, Forums and Associations have also accepted the appeal made by Tamil Marai Kazhakam (Tamil Vedic Forum) and celebrated Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on Vaikaasi Anusham. They are as follows:
In Sri Lanka
1. Yaazhpaanam Arya Dravida Basha Abhiviruthi sangam
2. Kozhumbu Saiva Mangaiyar Kazhagam
3. Kozhumbu Vivekananda Sabai
4. Ilangai Vanoli thamizh kalai manram
5. Kozhumbu Thiruvalluvar Nataka Sabha
6. Nelveedhi, Arasinar Mathiya Salsaari Thamizh manram
7. Bharathi Kazhagam
8. Unuppitti Hindu Sanmarga Sangam
In all, about 65 institutions and organizations of Sri Lanka had celebrated the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi-Anusham
1. Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore - Under the aegis of important personalities like Shri C Rajagopalachariar, Shri OP Ramaswamy Chettiar, Shri C Narasimhan, Shri A Gajapathi Naicker, Shri VC Palanichamy Gounder, Shri C Subramaniam, Shri M Manicka Velu and others and those like Shri Ra. Pi. Sethupillai delivering lectures, Vaikaasi Anusham was celebrated
2. Tyagaraya Nagar Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam
3. Thenkasi Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam
4. Puducherry Mangala Gaana Sabha
5. Pudukottai Thirukokarna Nilayam
6. Chennai Thiruvalluvar Manram
7. Conoor Bharathi Pazhanjika Vaalibar Manram
8. Devakottai Thiruvalluvar Sangam
9. Tyagaraya Nagar Hindi Prachara Sabha
10. Madurai Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam
In this way at many places, Vaikaasi Anusham was celebrated as the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. Other capitals of Indian states such as Guntakal, Chithor, Calcutta, Bombay and Bangalore too witnessed the celebration of this anniversary.
All Burma Thamizhar Sangam celebrated on Vaikaasi-Anusham.
Samaya Prachara Saba at Burmai
Thamizh Pannai Silangar Branch
Thamizh Ilaignar Sangam, Siramban
Thamizh Pannai Branch at Malaya
All the above forums celebrated Thiruvalluvar Day on Vaikaasi-Anusham.
Thamizhar Sangam and Thamizhar Ezhuthalar Sangam celebrated Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on Vaikaasi-Anusham.
In South Africa
Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary was celebrated at Johannesburg on behalf of Thiruvalluvar Vedic Forum on Vaikaasi-Anusham. Moreover it was celebrated at places like Durban and Transvaal, etc., in South Africa.
Part 3 Click here to view
An aberration and how it was defeated by KP Ratnam: In 1953, when All India Radio at Thiruchirapalli, under the chairmanship of H.H. Kunrakudi Adigalar, organised a programme to celebrate on Vaikaasi Anusham, Tamil Scholar Shri Ki.Aa.Pe. Vishvanatham participated along with Pandit KP Ratnam.
But in 1954, Ki.Aa.Pe. Vishvanatham wrote an open letter to KP Ratnam stating that Thiruvalluvar anniversary celebrations can be held in the month of Thai from 1954 onwards, as some people continue to observe it as the anniversary. Later, when Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham wanted All India Radio, Trichy to commemorate Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on the first day of Thai month, AIR authorities rejected his proposal. This fact came out in the open through the letter of rebuttal given by Pandit K.P. Ratnam to Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham.
In that letter of rebuttal, KP Ratnam appeals to people not to politicize the Thiruvalluvar Day celebrations by saying, “Since AIR stations of Chennai and Tiruchy rejected the claim of our friend Vishvanatham and accepted our claim, he has to examine as to why it had happened and attempt to remove the error in his contention. Casting this aside, developing a defeatist mentality and doubting the intentions of others do not bode well. We request all Tamils not to let political differences clash with the celebration of Thiruvalluvar birth anniversary”.
Further, KP Ratnam added, “Shri Visvanatham has stated only now that some people celebrate the first day of Thai as the birth anniversary of Valluvar in Tamil Nadu. But the magazines which profess Puritanical Thamizh, Dravidian ideology, Vaidika concepts have all lent support to us giving great motivation and encouragement, and not one wrote to me against Vaikaasi Anusham and requested adoption of the first day of Thai month.”
Moreover, it must be noted that in 1935, all Tamil Scholars, cutting across religious, political and caste affiliations, celebrated Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on Vaikaasi Anusham. Many political leaders such as EVR Periyar, CN Annadurai have participated in those celebrations. There was nothing at that time to show that either Visvanatham had objected to the Vaikaasi Anusham celebrations or requested to celebrate on Thai-1.
Ratnam’s letter adds, “The new concept of celebrating Thiruvalluvar Day on Thai-1 never appeared to be an alternative for Vaikaasi-Anusham then. Those who claim to serve the interests of Tamils ought to pave way for unity and not indulge in mudslinging, leading to creation of differences. This would be accepted by Shri Vishvanatham too. It is unfortunate that we have come to such a stage where, instead of adhering to the great deeds of our forefathers and follow in their footsteps, we are hell bent in destroying the unity of our race, thus inviting great blame and decay. We should attempt to change this situation at least now”.
Pandit KP Ratnam’s letter to Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham exposes the fact that there are always people who impede good actions. Celebrating Thai-1 as Thiruvalluvar Day is against tradition and against the opinion of Maraimalai Adigal who had established the Thiruvalluvar Era.
Anomaly behind ‘Thai’ Month
There is an anomaly behind having Thai-1/2 as the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. The conclusion arrived at by Maraimalai Adigal after painstaking research was that Thiruvalluvar was born 30 years before the birth of Jesus Christ and based on that he established the Thiruvalluvar Era. He also arrived at the conclusion that Vaikaasi-Anusham was the birthday of Thiruvalluvar. It is intriguing that people like Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham and M Karunanidhi reject Thiruvalluvar’s birth day while accepting his birth year, both being confirmed findings of Maraimalai Adigal. What else can one infer other than ‘self interest’ as the reason behind their stand!
Tamils world over celebrate Thai-1 as Pongal festival attaching importance to agriculture. As the focus will be on Pongal, the significance of Thiruvalluvar Day may lose its sheen, and hence, the TN government in the seventies shifted its stand and announced ‘Thai-2’ as Thiruvalluvar Day. Since then the government has been celebrating 2nd day of Tamil month Thai as Thiruvalluvar Day.
However, this day is celebrated by Tamils world over as Mattu Pongal, attaching significance to worshipping and thanking their cattle wealth which help their progress in agriculture. In fact, Pongal is celebrated for four days, the first day being “Bogi”, second day being “Pongal”, third day being “Mattu Pongal” and the last being “Kanum Pongal”. Moreover, in many households, people include various types of meats, liquor and even cigars while performing poojas on Mattu Pongal and Kanum Pongal. Thiruvalluvar in his Thirukkural talks about the evils of eating meat (Pulan Maruthal – Rejecting Meat) and drinking liquor (Kal Unnaamai – Abstain from Liquor) in separate chapters with ten couplets each. So, it is an irony that the government chose to name Mattu Pongal as the birth anniversary of a sage who advocated vegetarianism and advised people to stay away from liquor, and stood against all kinds of vices throughout his life.
Further, the government doesn’t celebrate Thiruvalluvar Day with the required significance. It is an exercise in tokenism. Thiruvalluvar is neither extolled nor hailed. The government just awards some Tamil litterateurs who are favourably disposed towards the ruling dispensation in a listless ceremony and there ends the matter.
Although the Rationalists claim they do not subscribe to the sanctity of the planetary system, they cannot reject the existence of Sun, Moon and the stars. Those who are learned about the ways of Tamils of yore, their histories, principles and traditions, would vouch for the fact that Tamils of the Sangam age celebrated festivals based on the stars alone. Ancient Tamils celebrated their birth stars as evidenced by Tholkaappiyam. Works like Muthollaayiram contain verses which announce the stars of the three great Tamil dynasties namely Chera, Chola and Pandiya. This can be seen in the explanation of 36th sutra in Tholkaapiyam by name Purathinai. Celebrating the star alone is Tamil tradition and celebrating the day is an alien tradition.
Our ancestors excelled in calculating time based on days and planets. They were called as Kaniyar and it is their discovery which is known as Panchangam, even today. Panchangam is hailed as “Aindhu Kelvi” by the great Tamil epic Silappadhikaaram.
Leave alone the first day of Thai month, even the first days of other Tamil months cannot be known without the help of the Panchangam. This fact should be borne in mind. The days of Pongal festival like the first of Thai and the second of Thai are celebrated for various reasons. We are aware that the birth anniversaries of avatars like Buddha, Mahavira and Sankara are celebrated on separate days. Similarly, a separate day is required to celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar.
Placing our divine sage Thiruvalluvar along with those avatars, we have to celebrate the day of his birth on a separate day. We ought not to confuse it with the days of Pongal festival. Only on the basis of such empirical reasoning has the Thiruvalluvar Temple been celebrating the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham for hundreds of years. Realising this, Maraimalai Adigal, Thiru. Vi. Ka., Periyar, Anna and others accepted to celebrate the star day as birth anniversary. They knew well that celebrating star is an ancient Tamil tradition. Hence, all Tamils, without reservations, should celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham.
Our humble appeals
Here is our appeal to former Chief Minister and DMK President Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi:
It is only you who introduced the Thiruvalluvar year to the Tamil community and it has taken firm roots. However, not just Maraimalai Adigal, even after celebrating the birth day of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham by the likes of Periyar and Anna, you rejected their practice and adopted Pongal day. It is still mystifying as to why you did so. We do not wish to enter into researching your point of contention, as we are aware that you would be ready with an explanation for that too. Tamilnadu is well aware of the fact that if you commit an error in your public life, and if one were to point it out with suitable evidences and proofs, you would not accept the error in an honorable way, and on the contrary, would indulge in justifying it with explanations.
In that manner, it would be better if you refrain from making explanations and simply follow the recommendations of Anna, Periyar, Maraimalai Adigal, Thiru.vi.ka, Naavalar Somasundara Bharathiyar, Kunrakudi Adigalar, Ka. Namachivaya Mudaliyar, Dr. Mu.Va, Dr. U.Ve.Sa., A Ramaswamy Mudaliyar and others, who are to your liking. We request you to issue an appeal to the Tamil people asking them to celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham at least in the days to come. If you were to make such an appeal, your respect and stature would rise to the heights of a palm tree and not be reduced to even an iota.
Here is our appeal to Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri Panneer Selvam and former Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Selvi Jayalalithaa:
Sir / Madame,
Realizing the truth in the information contained in this Paper, hence forth the second day of Thai (Mattu Pongal) should not be celebrated as Thiruvalluvar Day by the Tamilnadu government, and on the contrary, a government order needs to be issued stating that it would be celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham. By doing this, the error committed in the past would be rectified and the future made to correct the error. If you were to issue such an order, not only would you earn merit of correcting a historic blunder, but you would earn a firm place of honour in the history of Tamil culture and tradition, as honourable as the one which you earned by repealing the Tamil New Year Ordinance promulgated by the DMK government.
Our actions so far in this regard
A detailed letter was written to former Chief Minister and DMK President Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi on 11 April 2012.
A detailed OP-ED Column was written, published in Tamil Daily “Dinamani” dated 14 April 2012.
DMK President in his “Open Letter” in his party organ “Murasoli” dated 22 April 2012, made a passing mention about the OP-ED Column in Dinamani and refrained from giving a straightforward reply to the pointed questions.
A letter to Director, Department of Tamil Development, Government of Tamil Nadu was sent on 25 May 2014.
We received a reply from Director, Department of Tamil Development, Government of Tamil Nadu, through his letter dated 30 June 2014, requesting proofs and evidences for our contention that Vaikaasi-Anusham is the birth day of Sage Poet Thiruvalluvar.
A reply was sent to Director, Department of Tamil Development on 14 July 2014 citing various proofs and evidences. We also attached a letter from Sri S Ramachandran, epigraphist (retd from State Archaeological Department) giving various facts with regard to the Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore.
We sent another letter in continuation of the previous one on 16 July 2014 to the Director, Department of Tamil Development attaching the article published in Tamil daily “Dinamalar” and reproduced by Tamil fortnightly “Hindu Mithran”. We attached a copy of the photograph of the sculpture of Thiruvalluvar which was unearthed during the renovation done in 1973. We also cited various other evidences substantiating the fact that Vaikaasi-Anusham was the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.
We sent a third letter on 18 July 2014 to Director, Department of Tamil Development, in continuation of the previous two letters, attaching a copy of the OP-ED article published by Tamil daily “Dinamani” on 14 April 2012. We reiterated the salient features of our previous letters.
We sent a fresh letter on 22 July 2014 to the Secretary, Department of Tamil Development citing the various communications we had with the Director, Department of Tamil Development.
We sent a representation to the Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on 15 August 2014, referring to our various communications with the Department of Tamil Development and requesting her to declare Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Sage Thiruvalluvar and observing it as “India Ethics Day”.
We sent a letter to Sri Poonkunran, personal secretary to the Chief Minister, on 17 November 2014, citing the important facts and evidences with regards to the issue and also referring to our various earlier communications, and requesting him to do the needful.
As the Center has declared a nationwide celebration of Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary from 2015 onwards every year, we feel this is a great opportunity for the Central and State Governments to correct the historical wrong committed four decades back. Tamils all over the world would be forever grateful.
Professor Sami Thiagarajan is President of the Dravidian Intellectual Forum, Chennai; BR Gauthaman is Director of the Vedic Science Research Center, Chennai
Translation: R Sudarshan & BR Haran